Dangers of Methadone Abuse

What it’s Used For

Methadone is a synthetic opioid used primarily for helping clients overcome their heroin and morphine addictions. The medication in liquid form is prescribed as part of an opioid dependency maintenance program for managing the withdrawal symptoms caused by heroin and morphine.

Methadone may also be prescribed in a pill form for managing chronic pain. As a painkiller, methadone is extremely powerful, costs very little, and offers long-lasting pain relief. While any doctor may prescribe methadone for pain management, only an addiction specialist may prescribe methadone for the treatment of morphine or heroin addiction.

The Dangers of Methadone Abuse

While methadone is effective for managing heroin and morphine withdrawal symptoms, methadone is also highly addictive in its own right. It is one of the longest lasting narcotic drugs, taking over 20 hours to leave an individual’s body.

Clients who receive prescriptions for pain relief may abuse the drug at home, taking methadone in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol. Combining methadone with drugs and alcohol increases the risk for addiction and future abuse, as well as the risk for overdose and death.

Methadone Abuse

Methadone abuse is extremely dangerous and can kill users just like heroin. In fact, methadone accounts for 30% of all prescription drug deaths, even though only 2% of painkiller prescriptions are written for methadone.

In 2004, 988 deaths were attributed to methadone. Just four years later in 2008, more than 4,000 deaths were attributed to methadone. That is a 305% increase in just four years. Methadone has the single highest death rate for any prescription painkiller.

Physical Signs of Abuse Include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Flushing of skin
  • Seizures

Individuals who are abusing methadone also have a lack of interest in sex and other activities or hobbies that they once enjoyed. Psychological signs of abuse include distancing oneself from friends and family and a loss of interest in personal hygiene and appearance.

Individuals who are addicted to methadone may also steal or borrow money from friends in order to pay for their drug habit.

Addiction to Methadone

Once addicted to methadone, detox can be extremely difficult because of painful withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are similar to withdrawal from heroin and morphine. They include: skin turning bluish or becoming cold and clammy; limpness in muscles; shallow or slow breathing; inability to stay away; and loss of consciousness.

Today, at least 250,000 Americans use methadone in clinics. However, it is difficult to estimate exactly how many individuals abuse methadone, since the current statistics do not clarify how many people are addicted to the drug. If you need help, we can get you to a professional drug treatment program.